Ejecting CDs That Get Stuck In Optical Drives

Most of us, at some point or other have inadvertently got a CD/DVD stuck in our Mac’s optical drive. This is an issue that has been compounded with Apple’s decision to produce Macs that come equipped with nothing other than slot loading optical drives.

From unbalanced CD/DVDs to optical drive faults, there are a myriad of reasons for a CD/DVD’s reluctance to come out from the slot drive but we’re not here to examine these. We’re mainly concerned with getting the sucker out of there, at minimal cost. For this, there a few ways to force eject a CD/DVD.

Force Ejecting By Holding Down Mouse/Trackpad Button

The first and easiest attempt to do this, is simply to:

  • shut down your Mac
  • hold down the primary mouse or trackpad button (if you’re using a portable)
  • power on your Mac whilst still holding down the primary mouse or trackpad button until the CD/DVD self ejects

If your Mac boots all the way to your Desktop without ejecting the CD/DVD, then your attempt has failed. You can go again and see if the results differ. Sometimes, the primary mouse or trackpad button isn’t held down firmly long enough but if the results are the same, then most likely this method isn’t going to work for you.


Force Ejecting Via Target Disk Mode

There is another method but this requires the pairing of your Mac with another Mac. This also requires that your Mac currently recognises the CD/DVD that is in your optical drive. An easy way to tell this, is that the CD/DVD shows up in your Finder. If it doesn’t then don’t bother with this method.

Your Mac must also be FireWire equipped and you will need to acquire another FireWire equipped Mac as well. You then need to connect both Macs using a FireWire cable. There are two standards of FireWire; (i) FireWire 400 and; (ii) FireWire 800 (Diagram 1.0). You may use either a FireWire 400 or 800 connection or you may even criss-cross the two. A FireWire 400/800 to FireWire 400/800 connection is simple where you only need a single FireWire400/800 cable to get the job done. A criss-cross FireWire 400 to 800 connection or vice-versa on the other hand requires a specialised FireWire 400 to 800 cable where both ends of the cable have the relevant heads, i.e. FireWire 400 and 800 respectively. FireWire cables do not come as standard kit with your Mac, you may need to borrow/purchase one, if you do not currently have one.


Once a connection is established, start up the Mac that is assisting us in this process, allowing it to boot to the Desktop. Then engage the Target Disk mode on your troubled Mac by:

You will know you have successfully engaged the Target Disk mode when you see a FireWire icon floating on your screen.

Right about now, your Mac’s hard drive and the accompanying stuck CD/DVD should appear on the assisting Mac’s Finder. Select the troubled CD/DVD and eject it as you normally would on your Mac.
Force Ejecting Through Open Firmware

The last method is only applicable on PPC Macs and not Intel Macs. Since Intel Macs have disposed of Open Firmware and currently run Intel’s Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI).

You will need to boot into the Open Firmware environment which is not a window based UI. To do this simply, hold down the following keys whilst powering on your Mac – CMD + Option + O + F. Once in Open Firmware, type “eject disk”, and if its at all possible the CD/DVD should eject. If the Open Firmware returns an objection to the ejection then this method is inapplicable.
Dismantling The Mac To Remove The CD/DVD

If, after going through all the methods detailed above and your CD/DVD remains steadfast in being a permanent fixture on your Mac, then your only recourse is to bring your Mac down to the nearest ASP. To have the Mac techs dismantle it to remove the CD/DVD. Since this is not a standard issue, its usually not covered under warranty or AppleCare’s extended warranty and labour charges are to be expected.

Its stongly advised not to attempt to dismantle your Mac yourself unless you’re an Apple Certified Technician otherwise, you may risk destroying your Mac altogether.

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